When I first played Renowned Explorers: International Society for my review all the way back in 2015, I gave it a pretty solid high mark. What felt like it might be lacking then was a real edge — a tough challenge for players to take on. While I’m not so vain as to consider my single take on the game as a point of origin for new content, the fine folks at Abbey Games seem to have taken this need to heart when developing the game’s latest DLC, The Emperor’s Challenge. This expansion brings new life to the title with some great content.
If you’re not familiar, Renowned Explorers is a unique take on an adventure-RPG that lets players approach combat in interesting ways. Social skills are as vital here as any combat ability, and the Emperor’s Challenge is no exception. The expansion offers four new crew members hailing from the Orient and bringing a new set of Captain Perks to the table. A new four-star challenge area also means there’s new explorations to be made and new treasure to bring back home.
Of course, the star of The Emperor’s Challenge is the new game mode it brings along. Setting aside the race for renown between yourself and the dastardly Rivaleux, the new approach focuses on a string of challenging tasks that you’ll race to complete first in order to gain recognition from Emperor Guāngxù of China. These challenges come in many forms, including long-term goals that grow over time, one-off challenges during individual encounters, and unique goals to strive for both during expeditions and while spending your hard-earned resources in between. This shifting of the goalposts means players have to be more cunning with how they make every move, especially since unclaimed rewards will default to Rivaleux’s possession, making the mountain you must climb even higher.
Suffice it to say, if you’re a fan of Renowned Explorers already, this DLC is just short of a must-buy. The new game mode adds layers to gameplay in a wonderful way, and the expanded roster brings some fresh faces to your classic adventuring as well. I love seeing new content that not only adds to what’s already there, but builds a whole new way to play a game that’s already well-made. For those who own Renowned Explorers, you can pick up The Emperor’s Challenge for a paltry $7.49 on Steam. If you don’t have the game already, Abbey Games has a nice bundle that’s on sale through May 17 that includes both The Emperor’s Challenge and the earlier More to Explore DLC.